The Palais Theatre, St Kilda VIC, June 11.
Modern music-going culture is something we usually attribute to the darkness of night; late nights spent drunkenly pounding the floor at The Corner or stomping the streets and alleyways of Fitzroy or Collingwood, cast under the vague smell of urine and the vague threat of drug addicts, in the attempt to realise some sort of aural nirvana supplied by some obscure musical prospect. As such, it was to my surprise to find myself venturing out into the oppressive morning light to catch the latest thing in music at The Palais… a kid’s stage show? Yep, DJ Lance Rock and the rest of the Yo Gabba Gabba gang were once again bringing simple musical joys to the kiddies of Australia with Yo Gabba Gabba Live!, a stage show based on the popular kid’s TV show, leading me to drag myself to the event with coffee in one hand (coffee being the strongest inebriate available at that time of day) and a borrowed (stolen?) toddler in the other.
It’s easy to see why Yo Gabba Gabba can be so popular with small children, parents and slightly stoned Arts students alike. The colourfully-suited crew alone are enough to engage even the most discerning of toddler, but to consider that aspect alone as a basis of merit would simply be far too shallow. While DJ Lance Rock has the hosting style of a seasoned theatre veteran after a stroke, his energy and ability to engage is undeniable. It was evident that the kids truly love him, and he was truly comfortable as he joined the audience during one musical number for high fives and brief hellos.
The musical numbers themselves are a genuine treat of upbeat but not overly-infectious songs that actually contain some lyrical merit beyond what the kids in the audience would understand. While some songs simply spruiked the joys of dancing, others encouraged love and acceptance of others who are ‘different’, and another of eating your vegetables. One song, while addressing one of the characters’ fear of the dark (Don’t be afraid / Don’t be afraid / I am right here, and I am with you / Don’t be afraid), actually goes some way to expressing the human condition; who can honestly say that they haven’t at one time just wanted someone to be there for them?
Like the TV programme, the live show was filled with special guests. Legendary beatboxer Biz Markie reprised his role from TV, leading some audience participation beatboxing and choosing a select few adorably-bad tots to beatbox one-on-one with him, an exclusive opportunity that will probably be cited on those kid’s resumes in fifteen years’ time once they recognise their brush with hip-hop royalty. Unexpected humour was provided by comedian Dave “Hughesy” Hughes, who awkwardly stumbled through the course of teaching the audience a brand new dance, and some inoffensive musical good times and indie cred was provided by Melbourne band Little Red, who engaged the youngsters and parents with last years’ hit, “Rock It”.
My one major criticism is the choice of The Palais as venue, as it pretty much rendered the opportunity to dance along impossible, but ultimately the Yo Gabba Gabba live show was an all-around enjoyable concert experience. If you have found this review on the Radio Monash website, then there is a good chance that you don’t have a child yourself, but I’d encourage you to forget your age and instead involve yourself with the beautiful simplicity of the show and the music that the Yo Gabba Gabba crew create. Essentially, that is what every fan is pursuing; the simple pleasure of enjoying music. And the odour of faeces here was still considerably less than that encountered during the average visit to The Tote.